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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The Shougang Big Air course at the Olympics is forward thinking not "post-apocalyptic"

Far from being "post-apocalyptic" it is a part of a drive by the PRC to prevent the apocalypse of climate change.

Image via Twitter

In a classic example of folks in the west making assumptions based on the constant vilification of the People's Republic of China, many people watching the Olympics tried to turn one of its remarkable and positive stories into a negative one.

One of the venues is the truly visually striking Shougang Big Air course in Beijing.

A number of western commentators and keyboard warriors -- predictably not bothering to investigate it -- made ill-informed and ignorant posts about the venue. A few samples:

The Washington Post also called it "post-apocalyptic" in a headline.

That article goes on to frame the venue somewhat differently but the headline is what sets the tone.

Far from being "post-apocalyptic" it is a part of a drive by the PRC to prevent the apocalypse of climate change.

The Shougang Big Air course is built on the grounds of a former massive steel mill (NOT a nuclear plant) that began to be closed and moved in 2005 as part of an effort to modernize and make more sustainable China's steel industry as well as to deal with very high levels of pollution in Beijing.

The decision to have the Big Air slope on the site of the former steel mill is also part of a well-thought out plan to honor China's commitment to becoming a greener country. The mill, inaugurated in 1919, was closed more than 15 years ago by China as part of its commitment to improving pollution in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the first games the country ever hosted.
The site was then transformed into a hub for tourism and art exhibition, and an offer to use the two towers as a wedding location is under consideration, according to AFP.
A new steel plant is currently located in Caofeidian, almost 200 kilometers from Beijing and one of China's "eco-cities." The new plant is currently exploring new ways to use low-quality energy such as gas, heat, electricity, water and salt to create a green recycling system that will help the country reach its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

Even the Washington Post article noted that athletes love it:

“The whole industrial zone is really cool,” American freestyle skier Mac Forehand said. “I love how China repurposed it as something else and they don’t just leave it here dormant. It’s cool to see this jump in the middle of this abandoned factory. I hope we come back here in the future.”
The background may be befuddling to viewers, but the skiers and snowboarders love the jump. It may be the Augusta National of extreme sports. Big Air Shougang is the world’s first permanent big air venue. Harlaut called the venue “perfect” and “so, so well-built.” Many jumps at big air competitions are rickety, hastily built structures meant to pack in fans without prioritizing athletes’ comfort or even safety.

Placed in its proper context the venue is not only visually striking but an impressive attempt at urban renewal and fighting climate change.

An obvious case of how people should look before they jump on board with criticisms of China.



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